There are two provisions of the current Senate health care bill (S.1679, Affordable Health Choices Act) that promise to increase costs and put patients at risk by ignoring science.

First, insurance companies (and taxpayers, assuming that the bill applies to medicare, medicaid, and any new public option) would be required to reimburse Christian Science practitioners. (S.1679, Sec. 3103 (D) and IRS Publication 502).

In 1986, 2 1/2 year old Robyn Twitchell died of a bowel obstruction when his Christian Scientist parents hired a prayer practitioner instead of a doctor. The parents were convicted of manslaughter, but under this law, the practitioner would be reimbursed for the deadly work. Several other children have died under similar circumstances in recent years.

Secondly, insurance companies would be forced to reimburse licensed practitioners whose approaches are ideological rather than scientific. (See Sec. 411 (i) (2) (A) and Sec. 2713). The bill specifically includes “doctors of chiropractic... licensed complementary and alternative medicine providers.” Many, though not all, chiropractors claim that all disease is caused by misalignment of the spine. There is good evidence that chiropractic can be effective for treatment of pain in the lower back. There is no good evidence for any other benefit. Many chiropractors recommend regular “treatments” for healthy people, including infants, on an indefinite basis. It is hard to imagine how health care costs could be contained with reimbursement required for such unnecessary manipulation.

Naturopathy is an example of a licensed “alternative medicine” provider. Vermont and 15 other states license naturopathic doctors. The fact that these states offer licenses to NDs implies legitimacy, but in fact all state requirements are controlled by naturopathic doctors themselves. NDs write and score the exam, control the colleges who offer training (there are only five in the United States, and all teach only nonscientific modalities) and advise the Secretary of State. Nowhere in the process do states ask: What is the scientific evidence for efficacy? Under the proposed Senate language, naturopaths in Vermont would be reimbursed for such practices as reiki, homeopathy and craniosacral therapy, none of which have either a credible rationale or any scientific evidence for support.

Let Senators Sanders and Leahy know that healthcare costs will increase and patient health will suffer if insurance carriers and taxpayers are forced to pay for useless ideological approaches. There is only one way to determine the safety and efficacy of a medical treatment: science.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for posting this, Jerry. Do you know what the deadline is to write Leahy and Sanders?

I have personal experience with homeopathy, AKA little sugar pills. I was told that they could reset the bones in my neck. I was in a car wreck years ago, and that permanently rearranged my neck. Reiki could make my uterine fibroids go away.

Of course, neither worked. Probably because I didn't have enough faith.
Hi, G.

I don't know the schedule precisely, but I wouldn't delay. The Senate is putting its bill together this week. Check this
Urgent! The assault on science is still in both the Senate and House healthcare bills, and Sanders and Welch both support this gravy train for woo.

Please contact them and Sen. Leahy (whose position is unknown to me) and urge them to oppose this waste of money that would legitimize snake oil and set scientific medicine back decades.
Thanks for posting this Jerry.


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